Jack Briggs Police Chief and Cyclist
Jack Briggs led at remarkable life before he accepted a position as Chief of the newly formed Trucial Scouts Police Section, later to become Commander in Chief of Dubai's Police Force from 1965 to 1975. Jack spoke and wrote fluent Arabic, translated books by Dubai's Writers from Arabic into English and lectured on Arabic Affairs in UK Universities. But he had one lifelong obsession - cycling!
Jack loved to race Cycles!
Cycling was Jack's passion, "not trundling around admiring the scenery on a comfortable roadster but on a racing bike competing in road races and time trials". Jack's problem in Dubai was he had no one to race against. He solved that by convincing his young Dubai policemen to try cycling as a sport. But there were no racing cycles available in Dubai so Jack placed an order for six racing bikes with the local Bike Shop back in his UK home town. Jack had bought all his racing cycles from this local shop. But then he had to get these six cycles back to Dubai!!
Want to Cycle in Dubai?- Get a Boeing 747!
Dubai's Royal Flight had a new Boeing 747 SP Jumbo Jet. Jack heard this Jumbo Jet was flying to UK for routine maintenance checks. He hitched a ride back to UK. There he made his way to his village to collect the six racing cycles. Jack organised transport to take his six cycles back to the airport, loaded them onto the Royal 747 and flew back to Dubai with his cycles in the cargo hold after maintenance checks were completed. All had gone to plan as far as Jack was concerned. Meanwhile Jack's local Bike Shop Owner was excited at actually selling six racing cycles and even more so to know they were being transported in a Royal Jumbo Jet to Dubai. So he called the local Newspaper and told his story.
The Newspapers were equally excited and gave the story prominence in their next edition. Good stories travel fast in the newspaper business! Soon what had started as a local story had become Regional and National News. Jack was blissfully unaware this was happening. After arriving back in Dubai, Ka k was told about the headlines and shown what was being printed about his UK excursion to collect six racing cycles. Jack's response was not recorded!
Cycling as a Dubai Sport
Jack's passion for cycle racing led to cycle road racing becoming a recognised UAE sport supported by both National and Expatriate Riders. Sadly Jack passed away in 2006 at the age of 86 while riding his bike in Dubai. He would have been pleased to know that....
“UAE is on track to produce the next Olympic champion in cycling with the grand announcement by the Dubai Sports Council that it will host the Dubai Tour 2014 at the inauguration of the Dubai Cycling Course on Friday. Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum officially inaugurated the 68-km circuit located on Al Qudrah Road towards Bab Al Shams Resort at a glittering event. Grand Tour winners Alberto Contador, Ryder Hesjedal, Vincenzo Nibali and Tony Martin attended the event.”
Jack Briggs Obituary:
Jack Briggs, who has died aged 86, did a powerful lot for Britain in the Arab world. He was also one of the most decent and lovable men on this foolish world. From the mid-1960s, in the early years of Dubai's astonishing expansion he was Commandant of Police, and a loyal but frank servant and confidant of the Ruler, Shaikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktum.
In that brash and cosmopolitan society he was shrewd, impartial, universally liked and absolutely straight. He took a degree in Arabic by correspondence from the School of Oriental and African Studies. His Arabic, both written and spoken, was so good that he was able to publish translations of modern Dubai Authors and was an Examiner for the international baccalaureate. This, from a man with only elementary school education, was a remarkable achievement. When Jack retired in 1974 he was kept on as Adviser and Inspector General. Even when he stepped down from that post, the Ruler insisted that he retain a house in Dubai and he was constantly consulted.
Although he was born in London, he was a Lancastrian through and through. He grew up in Accrington, left school at 14 and, after a short spell as an apprentice lithographer, enlisted in the Scots Guards. Eager for service abroad, he transferred to the Palestine Police, where he quickly became fluent in Arabic. After the collapse of the Palestine mandate he joined the Bahrain police but later moved to Qatar as Deputy Commandant. When in 1964 the Trucial Oman Scouts formed a Police Wing he was recruited to command it with the rank of major, based in Sharjah. The move to Dubai soon followed.
Jack was awarded the OBE. His lifelong hobby was cycling; not the sit-up-and-beg variety but racing championships and time trials. It was while riding in mid-heatwave that he collapsed and died.
He had a long, old-fashioned marriage to Cath Laverty and spent his last years caring for her in her chronic illness. She survives him, with their four children.
The Guardian UK Monday 7 August 2006